Do you think your team could be more productive if you had a better meeting cadence?
If so, you’re not alone. A proper meeting cadence is one of the most important things to get right when running an effective department. But with so many different opinions on the best meeting cadence, how do you know which one is right for your team?
Let’s go over some tips to help you choose the best meeting cadence for your team.
What is a meeting cadence, and why do you need one for your team?
In short, a meeting cadence is simply the frequency of team meetings.
Meeting cadences can range from daily meetings to weekly meetings to monthly meetings and anything in-between. Meeting every day might be too much, while meeting quarterly, or even yearly may not be enough for some teams.
The importance of a proper meeting cadence cannot be understated. Setting the appropriate cadence ensures a balance between individual productivity and group updates on projects.
Quarterly meetings: are great when you want to share what the team is working on. Meetings such as Business Review, Board meetings, Planning meetings, etc., fall into this category. These meetings usually last for 60 to 90 minutes. The focus of these meetings is to share on a high level the goals of the team and review where the business is. These meetings help the stakeholders evaluate the progress of the last 90 days and help in planning for the next quarter.
Monthly meetings: are a little more in-depth when compared to quarterly meetings. Department meetings, management meetings, All hands meetings fall in this category. These meetings are usually set up for an hour. These meetings can be used by leadership to communicate any upcoming organizational changes to employees and ensure that they get relevant information on time.
Weekly meetings: to check in on the weekly progress. Project team meetings usually fall into this category. Weekly meetings usually last 30 minutes to an hour. These meetings are generally used to address time-sensitive topics such as roadblocks in the project and action items for the upcoming week.
Daily meetings: are operational meetings and are used to track daily progress and are usually used to keep the team informed about the progress of a project. Agile team meetings and standups fall into this category. These meetings are typically set up for 15 to 20 minutes and are designed to update daily progress quickly.
Project managers or Scrum masters should ensure that standup meetings don’t run for longer than 15 minutes. If issues need discussion and require longer than 15 minutes, ensure that you set up a different session to discuss these issues instead of using the standup meeting to address them.
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How to establish the best meeting cadence for your team
To determine the best meeting cadence for your department, start by asking yourself a few questions. Answer these questions honestly to determine how much time between meetings feels right to you and your team.
- Do our daily tasks consistently require us to have information from every team member?
- Will our projects demand the whole team’s input to move forward successfully?
- Do we need to get everyone together periodically, or is it better to work together from get-go?
- Will having a meeting result in disruption of a critical part of the project?
You can determine if your department needs daily meetings or just one or two meetings every week by answering these questions. This will help you choose the best cadence based on how often your tasks require input from others on the team, and you will spend your time working together on tasks rather than wasting time in meetings that don’t need to happen.
The factors you should consider when choosing a meeting cadence for your department might vary depending on the size of your team, the project they are working on, and even their location. Regardless of these differences, some factors always make an impact. For example, critical milestones in a project necessitate the need for a catching-up session. But then again, also consider, “could this be in an email?”
What are the benefits of having a proper meeting cadence?
When teams have an effective meeting cadence, they tend to be more productive and more efficient with their time.
A tighter meeting cadence will keep your department on track with their projects and help finish them faster. When your team is well-informed about what team members are doing, they can stay on the same page and avoid wasting time by communicating the same information repeatedly.
After defining a meeting cadence for your department, you can rest easy knowing that everyone is on the same page and not spending more time than they need to away from their tasks and duties.
How often should meetings be held to achieve the best results?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Some of the more commonly established meeting cadences can range based on the usual time expectations. For example, there are quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily meetings. But these periods are common and based on the needs of respective industries.
So, the proper meeting cadence depends on the industry, department, and type of team you manage. To determine what meeting cadence will work best for you, consider your budget, people’s availability, and willingness to attend meetings.
We surveyed 182 senior managers in various industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
Too many meetings can prevent your employees from engaging in deep work and working on problems requiring deep thinking and creativity. If your employees are interrupted every few hours by a meeting, it will lead to overall dissatisfaction with work.
Best Practice Recommendation: Meeting cadence should be determined by team size, project length, output expected, and level of engagement in the customer journey. In most cases, it’s recommended that teams meet face-to-face once a week or via a video conference tool or voip phone system at least once a month.
How long should meetings be held to achieve the best results?
Scheduling fewer yet more strategic meetings will help you keep your team engaged and on track with their project goals. You can also consider distributing meeting agendas in advance to prepare for the topics being discussed. This will help them avoid distractions that might take away from productivity.
Best Practice Recommendation: Try to keep meetings to 30 minutes or less, scheduling them more frequently if necessary. If your team is proactive and takes care of most issues without scheduling a meeting, feel free to meet less often.
The main thing to consider is that the longer the meeting is, the more it eats up potential productivity.
Let’s look at an example published by Lucid Meetings of common meeting cadences and the hours invested per year.
As you can see here, an hour and a half meeting every week can result in 75 hours a year of time spent in meetings. This is time spent away from other tasks. Even with a ten-minute daily meeting, that still results in 40 hours of lost productivity a year.
If the meetings have been productive and produced actionable change overall, perhaps this investment of time against potential productivity is worthwhile. However, as we’ve established already, not all meetings result in actionable outcomes and may not be successful. Therefore, having the proper meeting cadence is essential, as the table above shows, such meetings result in so many hours a year.
Rather than thinking in terms of daily or weekly, you should instead extend a little faith toward your teams and consider finding a cadence that strikes a balance between their autonomy and the need for checking in and seeing where everyone stands.
But what if a situation calls for more meetings?
Best Practice Recommendation: The need for a change of cadence is a very real possibility as situations change. If a situation becomes unstable, such as an issue with a new product or pipeline, it becomes essential to be flexible. Changing the cadence to help return to a stable situation is absolutely a best practice. But on the other hand, that also means easing the meeting cadence as things return to normal.
When the situation is no longer chaotic, it is good to give teams back their time and reduce the need for meetings. Naturally, this applies to both meeting frequency and meeting length. In general, meetings should be scheduled if needed, based on the relevance and importance of information. Rather than try to fill a round period, consider meeting increments of more tailored numbers.
After all, a 15-minute meeting is much faster than a 30-minute meeting. If the meeting does not require a lot of formality, then there is no sense of padding in extra time to make nice, round numbers.
Tips to make sure that everyone is engaged in each meeting
At the beginning of each month, send out an invitation to all team members with a schedule for the month. If you make it everyone’s responsibility to create their own schedule, they are responsible for attending.
Ask those present at the beginning of each meeting if they have everything they need to be as prepared as possible. If not, give them a specific time to complete this task. If they have not completed this task by the next meeting, determine how you will proceed as a group.
Meet in advance to prepare for any important meetings. If the meeting is with someone outside of your team, make sure they know what you will discuss to avoid awkward silences.
Depending on the meeting cadence, consider rotating the responsibility of chairing meetings to those who attend most regularly. Encourage those present to speak up if anyone has not been following the agreed-upon meeting cadence. Encourage those silent during meetings to speak up and encourage those who dominate the conversation to be more inclusive.
Plan follow-ups in advance, assigning the next steps in writing in either an email or a shared document. Remind everyone to follow up on their assigned tasks either in person or through email.
Final thoughts on meeting cadence
Meeting cadence is not about forcing people into meetings but rather encouraging participation. It’s essential to find a schedule that works best for your team and stick with it so everyone knows what to expect.
While a meeting cadence can be challenging to set up at first, keep in mind that your team will become accustomed after some time. And remember, meetings are not just about work. They are also about building camaraderie and enjoying each other’s company. By using these tips, you should be able to find the meeting cadence that works best for your team!
Bio: Amrapali is a digital marketing consultant who blogs about business, and marketing at Bazaar Expert.